As someone who has little interest in Youtubers and beauty culture and influencers in general, to say I am uneducated on their shit is but a mere understatement on the topic. I only know most of them through their scandals – ‘jokingly’ promoting Holocaust denial, throwing around the n word, fucking their own CATS (like???) and so on and so forth. When you’re getting all that coin from selling prohibitively expensive self-empowerment materials to teenage girls, I suppose you just have to find a way to fill your off hours – spreading your seed in the hopes that some drama will sprout and bring in ad revenue, or in the case of Shane Dawson, spreading your seed on your cat’s stomach.
So, while I had no idea who Tati Westbrook was, I knew who James Charles was. It’d be kinda hard not to, lmao. Ever since the tombstone-toothed gremlin had his first Ebola scandal after about two weeks of riding high as the first male face of Covergirl, he’s been a delicious fixture of mockery across the Twittersphere. That seems like a bygone era, given the current issues of sexual harassment and predatory behaviour and so forth. This is stuff I’ve involuntarily kept up with via my timeline, but not anything I’ve investigated, since I’m about as interested in his daily affairs as I am in developing super gonorrhoea. Have you ever read up on super gonorrhoea? Jesus Christ, right? If you don’t care at all about Youtuber nonsense, drop what you’re doing and investigate the spine-chiller that is super gonorrhoea. One Rhythm & Vines festival gone wrong and society is fucking done for. Anyway, this content just seemed to be typical of James Charles, and to an extent, the people that the MUA industry chooses to support.
So while I didn’t have any initial interest in watching BYE SISTER… on Tati Westbrook’s channel, as I was sufficiently pleased that the titular sister had been led out of the stable and into the slaughterhouse on Twitter, my editor was like ‘No, please, I promise you’ll enjoy it, even if you don’t know who Tati is’. So, having abandoned my lecture and mentally prepped myself for the dreariness of having some Shads legally-defined-as-edible food with David Seymour later in the evening, I got some overpriced Sea Salt popcorn from Munchy Mart, made some extra strength blueberry green tea, and you know what? She wasn’t wrong.
If I could summarise the 43-minute video and be done with it, I would say this. Tati Westbrook said FUCK that cretin. She straightened her hair, got out her flowery pantsuit, and pushed him out of the window of Winterfell. From a purely catty gay point of view, it was what I had been promised.
Again, as someone who just stays away from this side of the internet in the same way I avoid Tauranga, it was a very interesting video. The deliciously gossipy and brutal content is in and of itself very entertaining, which borders on schadenfreude, I suppose. It ranges from reflecting on his status as a sexual predator and the realisation that her wedding video is forever tainted by his presence, to outright telling his mother to come to LA and pick up her kids. I laughed! Sorry! But she did put that information out there 🙁 And to her credit, it is done in a very professional manner, preferring to not delve into one-sentence ‘slams’ and instead talking like a mature 37-year-old, one that realises her age and the responsibilities and boundaries that the burden of time entails. Westbrook presents a very reflective persona. She doesn’t monetise the video either – basic PR, but it seems that so little in the industry have that basic PR sense nowadays. And on the surface, it seems like a thorough rejection of all that James Charles represents.
And yet… one wonders why it took James Charles promoting a rival product over hers for such an indictment to finally take place. It just kept sitting in the back of my head throughout those 43 minutes. While she does thoroughly explain her viewpoint, that she chose to talk to him in private and repudiate his various shortcomings in a closed sphere, it begs the question of why ‘vitamin gummies’ were the flame that set Tati Westbrook alight. It’s not as if this stuff is undocumented – the LGBT community has been rejecting him like a botched liver transplant for three years, let alone the complaints from various black communities about him and the highly similar figures that surround him (Jeffree Star, Manny Mua and so forth), like bubonic plague linking up with its septicemic and pneumonic variants. Like, surely any reasonable person would have cut oneself off from a guy who bragged about what was legally considered sexual coercion. If these problems were so dire, and he was so unchanging, why not release this before? Why not distance yourself if the actions of some 19-year-old millionaire rat were so troubling?
And I suppose this betrays the earnest quality and the professionalism of the video. I mean, that quality was lost when Shane Dawson was mentioned and she didn’t comment on him fucking his dog, but you know what I mean. As delicious as the gossip in this video is, and as much as James Charles deserves it, it seems… fraudulent. It gains a second status as an insight into the insincerity of these people – the idea that this video is merely about protecting the brand that she promoted in the last few minutes of the video, and not about removing oneself from the influence of the various racists, predators and otherwise insufferable pricks that plague this developing industry. And I mean, I’m not surprised. I’m out of touch, but not so out of touch with that world that I don’t recognise these things. And I don’t think anyone else is so blind as to not see that either. The video betrays itself, but it also betrays the inevitable ‘we need to do better’ attitude that will be promoted by the industry in order to disassociate itself from the fallen star, like the rush to kick out Kevin Spacey but still treating Woody Allen like the undisputed paedophile auteur of modern cinema.
It’s not like this will significantly affect James Charles in the long run, I think. Because the most tragic aspect of this – not to take on any ‘think of the children’ moralising – is that his audience are primarily comprised of young teenagers that don’t yet have the education that we do about this kind of behaviour, and through no fault of their own, will fail to see the big deal and eventually normalise him back into success. The point isn’t even that such behaviour will go largely unpunished, it’s the idea that even if it was, there are so many other people that are just as vile that will not have the blowback that James Charles is currently getting. I guess my point is that you have to keep this same energy of condemnation for all the vermin involved in the rat king, not just the one that it is socially profitable to laugh at.